What you need to know about tracheal collapse in dogs
Tracheal Collapse is a disease involving the collapse of a pet’s windpipe, or trachea. This can cause a narrow opening in the trachea making it hard to breath. The disease primarily affects toy breeds of both sexes, with Yorkies being top on the list of most affected. Yes, it is considered a congenital abnormality, as a result of a deficiency in some breeds. But vets don’t know why it happens to some and not to others. It can manifest at any age, though more dogs show signs at around age six. Signs of collapse include cough that may sound like a honk. If your pet has labored breathing out on a walk. Gums will look a bit blue in color and they may even sound like a wheeze. Don’t confuse this with a reverse sneeze which can also sound alike and is a more common diagnosis. If your pet is overweight, this can make matters worse. Even food or drink can set it off. The problem gets worse in hot humid weather, dust or smoke can exacerbate your pet, but you can learn how to control it.
X-rays are recommended but may not always show the collapsed trachea so some vets may send you out to a specialist for a Fluoroscopy. A Fluoroscopy allows them to see the trachea in action as the dogs breathes in and out. Not all vets have the equipment for this and most will refer you to a specialist. Another way is endoscopy which allows tiny camera to view of the inside of trachea. It can provide the best view of the airway, and vets can take a culture for analysis. Most vets will do a total checkup to rule out any other cause and an echo-cardiogram is recommended to evaluate pets heart is functioning correctly.
Repair of a tracheal collapse requires a specialized surgical procedure. It must be performed by a veterinary surgeon that has extensive knowledge of the pets airway. The placement of prosthetic rings to the trachea is the current treatment of choice. The vet hospital should have a knowledgeable staff able to help your dog recover from this surgical procedure. This is a major surgery and has a potential for complications. It is also expensive and can be prone to failure over time. But it may be the only option for more severe cases.
Any disease of the airway can be mistaken for tracheal collapse, including reverse sneezing, infections, lungs, or heart failure, as well as tumors or even something stuck in the windpipe. This is why it’s important that you get a proper diagnosis and not assume this is the problem.
For most pets the vets will recommend cough medications some steroids or other inflammation pills that may help control the respiratory system. It is not a cure but most dogs respond well to these treatments. Holistic vets recommend supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, and cartilage builders. Even taking fido to the chiropractor or getting acupuncture can help reduce the intensity of coughing episodes. If medications don’t help they may recommend surgery.
Why tracheal collapse occurs is unknown, you can help relieve it by watching your pets weight and avoid things that might set off a respiratory event. Never use a collar on little dogs. Any dog with a collapsing trachea should be using a harness only for walks. I also can recommend other harnesses that can help prevent this issue. Harnesses will truly keep them from developing more severe trachea issues please don’t use a collar on your little ones ever.